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A Manual for Creating Atheists

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  1,278 Ratings  ·  123 Reviews
For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith—and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. The result is a world broken in large part by unquestioned faith. As an ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Pitchstone Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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The God Delusion by Richard DawkinsGod Is Not Great by Christopher HitchensThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganLetter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris
Notable Atheist Books
64th out of 354 books — 858 voters
Debunking Handbook by John CookMotivational Interviewing by William R. MillerInstant Influence by Michael PantalonJust Listen by Mark GoulstonWhat Intelligence Tests Miss by Keith E. Stanovich
Street Epistemology
15th out of 27 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Ken Bour
Mar 01, 2014 Ken Bour rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon-paid
I have a tremendous amount to say about this book, but this review will be be a shortened version until I have sufficient time to (a) read it again (ugh!) quoting snippets to support my myriad contentions and concerns, and (b) write a defensible counter-argument to Boghossian's "manual" for creating atheists.

Boghossian's entire exhortation against religious belief is framed around an imputed epistemology that is based upon a definition of the term Faith, which he explains at the outset, as "pret
Alex Ristea
Dec 27, 2013 Alex Ristea rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
If you want an intro to Peter Boghossian, I highly recommend the following two videos:

Critical Thinking Crash Course

Jesus, the Easter Bunny, and Other Delusions. Just Say No!

This books argues that "faith is an unreliable process for arriving at the truth," and defines faith as: "pretending to know things that you don't know."

If you need an answer to an objective question like "what are the dimensions of the bathroom door that I need to replace?" (as opposed to a subjective question like "is ketc
Dan Arel
Dec 29, 2013 Dan Arel rated it it was amazing
The title alone will stop you in your tracks, “A Manual for Creating Atheists”, a new book by philosopher Peter Boghossian.

At first glance, I thought I was look at atheist proselytizing, the very thing we atheists often stand against. I was wrong, and in a really good way.

This book will in fact create atheists, and this book will make you the creator of some, but it will not be by preaching atheism, denouncing god or even denouncing religion. You are going to create atheists by simply learning h
Nov 25, 2013 Book rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism-religion
A Manual for Creating Atheists by Peter Boghossian

"A Manual for Creating Atheists" is a guide on how to talk people out of their faith. This book provides the framework on how to become a Street Epistemologist; that is a person equipped with the philosophical tools necessary to help others leave behind their faith and replace it with reason. Dr. Boghossian a professor of philosophy, offers atheists with a much needed tool that provides structure and confidence on how to convey and embrace doubt.
Nov 19, 2013 Darrel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking to understand religious infection.
I read a prerelease copy of this book and loved it. This is not a book to just read, but to study as well. Dr. Boghossian has written a very understandable approach to working with those who are infected with religious ideas. While logic is not always the answer, he helps show how simple questions can lead the way to deeper thought and understanding of the religious. His key notion that "faith is not a reliable way of knowing" is easy to understand yet profound. It is something the "faithful" ha ...more
This Doctor Should Follow His Own Prescription

I was assured this book would provide insight about why people believe what they do, and what it takes to change their minds. It delivered on this promise to some extent, but the author fails to follow his own good suggestions. Hence the title on the clumsy 1960’s style cover, and the unnecessarily polarizing writing inside.

The book is specifically intended to teach people how to talk others out of their faith. He defines “faith” in two ways: “Belie
Feb 12, 2014 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atheism
"Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity . . . the grave will supply plenty of time for silence."--Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

"The idea, therefore, that religious faith is somehow a sacred human convention--distinguished, as it is, both by the extravagance of its claims and by the paucity of its evidence--is really too great a monstrosity to be appreciated in all its glory."--Sam Harris, The End of Faith

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--The
Xavier Shay
Dec 29, 2013 Xavier Shay rated it it was amazing
The best book on teaching critical thinking I have read. Includes "intervention dialogues" transcripts, plenty of research, genuine compassion and empathy for believers, plus a wealth of experience in the author (who has been teaching philosophy and talking about faith for decades).

Boghossian relentlessly focuses on attacking faith as a means of attaining truth, not attacking relgion:
"Reasoning away faith means helping people to abandon a faulty epistemology, but reasoning away religion means t
Jan 07, 2014 Dorian rated it it was amazing
This isn't a book "about atheism," it's about the difference between critical thinking and faith (correctly applied) as a path to knowledge/knowing. That's the nutshell version - I had several parts noted that I wanted to address for this review. I'll pare it down, though, to my favorite points.
1) Boghossian discusses Aristotle's distinction between moral and intellectual virtues - important to remember when discussing epistemology (the study of knowledge).
2) He addresses the taboo of criticizin
Lance Goff
Oct 27, 2013 Lance Goff rated it it was amazing
Here is the review I posted on my blog:

Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists, is a timely and cogent new book that provides practical tools for talking people out of faith. In spite of its title, the book is not nearly as aggressive as one might suppose. What sets it apart from the pile of atheism books that have been written in the past decade is that Boghossian, a philosophy professor, goes after the certainty and knowledge claims of faith-based beliefs from a position of logic and
May 27, 2014 Mike rated it did not like it
If you have already read the diatribes by Harris and Dawkins on religion then there's no real need to get this book. All Boghossian is doing is borrowing the language of 'faith' as a virus (which he doesn't substantiate by the way) and asserting that religion is delusional. Of course, Boghossian never actually gives any evidence for this and neither does he even attempt any serious interaction with the people he's criticizing in his book but instead clearly thinks the rhetoric alone will suffice ...more
Jul 20, 2015 Steve rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for so many reasons. Firstly, it is empathic. Boghassian treats those he is trying to rescue, from what he describes as a "faith virus", with respect, a willingness to listen, and a genuine concern for the welfare of those he writes about and for. Secondly, Boghossian speaks from experience. He clearly has had in-depth conversations with believers, listened to them, and responded to them with targeted "interventions" that fit the person, rather than using blunt instruments t ...more
Nov 01, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it
It must be Peter Boghossian's experience in martial arts that leads him to describe his method of street epistemology as the art of, 'confronting without confronting'. Some forty years ago I heard a charismatic Bruce Lee describe, in a similar manner , his style of fighting as, 'The art of fighting without fighting.'
The phrase has always stayed with me and it seems the perfect description for Boghossian's no-nonsense vaccine for, as he describes it, the faith virus.

From the sampling of intervent
Feb 13, 2015 Bakari rated it really liked it
Spent most of the day finishing this book. Appreciate the author’s call for atheists to become “Street Epistemologist”, willing to challenge faith as epistemology. Boghossian doesn’t waste time quoting and discrediting Bible stories and verses, nor does he talk specifically about the role of churches. No, he exposes and criticizes the epicenter of religion, faith itself as the source of the problem.

I agree with most of his analysis, and though I don’t get a chance to be a Street Epistemologist
Jan 16, 2014 Cory rated it it was ok
Wow. Peter Boghossian manages to get so, so much wrong about faith that a facepalm is the only appropriate response.

Arguing isn't an appropriate response. This book, which outlines a strategy to argue people out of religious faith, tells its readers not to accept ANY definition of faith other than "pretending to know things you don't know" from a believer and if a believer tries to argue faith is something different DON'T LET THEM. Therefore, I can't argue with him that this is NOT what faith is
Brendan Egan
Jan 28, 2014 Brendan Egan rated it it was amazing
Really good stuff. A manual on how to stir the pot and not be a total dick about it.

My one qualm with the book is the title. I think it's going to do the book some harm. Boghossian says somewhere in the book (I lost the page) that he doesn't want lead people to atheism but to reason and logic. Atheism is just a byproduct of that reason. If that's the case, then maybe the title should reflect the reason and logic bit. More people would probably be willing to check this out if they didn't think it
Apr 08, 2014 David rated it liked it
One of the most interesting things for me was learning about how the author has applied these motivated-interviewing techniques to working with diabetes patients - That, I want to read a book about. Maybe a future work? I would be happy to help with that research.

Despite the agitprop title, I was attracted to this book post de facto for its robust attack on relativism and was not disappointed. Also, the guy lives in Portland, hey. I am personally not so interested in converting anyone (need I sa
Nov 12, 2013 Jeff rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. So much helpful information. I deconverted from christianity a couple of years ago but just recently have been more open about this. I started reading the four horseman, Dawkins , Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens. Just like Peter states in the book "The Four Horseman identified the problems and raised our awareness, but they offered few solutions." In this book, Peter outlines how to discuss faith as a delusion. He does so in a very eloquent, thougtful manner. One that, if tatics a ...more
Ben Sixsmith
Jul 28, 2016 Ben Sixsmith rated it did not like it
Peter Boghossian is a combative man. In "A Manual for Creating Atheists" he writes as if his fellow nonbelievers are entering a boxing match: spelling out, in blunt, uncompromising language, the tough rhetorical means by which they must convert the religious. His ideal "Street Epistemologist" is a "fighter...from the school of hard knocks" who represents "a humanism that's taken some hits and gained from experience". On the next page, now his readers are lacing up their gloves and fiddling with ...more
Ross Blocher
May 26, 2014 Ross Blocher rated it really liked it
Peter Boghossian is something of an atheist bulldozer, on a mission to create more bulldozers. The proposed target for their destructive power? Faith. I don't think Boghossian would object to the characterization, as he jumps straight into examples of his interventions with people of faith and strategies to marginalize faith as an epistemology toward the ultimate goal of eradicating it as one might polio or smallpox.

This is not a book aimed toward believers, and Boghossian doesn't waste any time
Feb 17, 2016 Sergei rated it really liked it
This book teaches one important lesson, and its scope is more general than religious arguments. Here is the lesson:

Don't dispute facts. Establish common epistemology first.

I realize now that often I found myself arguing about facts, when it is "how do you know something is true" that should be agreed upon first.

Once the latter is done, the former becomes simpler.

If you cannot establish a common epistemology, thought, there is no point in arguing further.
Jan 07, 2014 Kevin rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book.

Peter's focus is amazing. He outlines his thoughts very well and offers compelling guidance.

Just the philosophical notes outlining faith, hope, epistemology, etc are worth the read.

I also enjoyed the distinctions he draws between religion and faith.

A great read.
Jan 01, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
Minus one star for the author's focus on eradicating religion instead of just harmful, irrational thinking (which can be both religious and nonreligious). Otherwise, full of excellent debate points and practical advice.
Brian Williams
Jan 14, 2014 Brian Williams rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A Manual for Creating Atheists offers a practical perspective on how best to talk to people about faith and religion. Unlike other recent authors (Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins etc..) Boghossian's book concentrates on how to separate people from their faith and not just why it's a good idea. I'm excited to try out Boghossian's methods as he makes an excellent case for why they are effective and I'm expecting them to be superior to my former techniques. The main thing that I'll be doing differently i ...more
Gary Good
Jun 02, 2016 Gary Good rated it did not like it
If you want to turn the nominally religious (those who don’t really know what they believe or why they believe it) into atheists, the methods in this book will probably work. However, if you encounter people who know what they believe and know why they believe it, following Boghossian’s methods will fail miserably.

The foundational problem with this book is Boghossian’s definition of “faith.” In chapter two, the author gives us his two definitions for faith:

1. Belief without evidence.
2. Pretendi
Apr 02, 2016 Rod rated it did not like it
PB: "In your sons critical thinking class...I ask students to question everything. Everything...I NEVER tell you what to think. I ask you questions."

And so I questioned every bit of ATHEISM in this insanely militant hateful SMUG/ARROGANT biased short-sighted propaganda brochure. It was tons of fun. And YES! My Christianity is well intact and stronger than ever. I did notice that the author failed to question any of HIS BELIEFS and CONCLUSIONS. Hmmmm? He simply assumed a default position that sui
Definitely fills a niche and a need, although I had a few issues. One, it is a bit heavy on philosophy (the author's specialty) and some readers might get a little bored/lost. Two, my ire was raised when the author started criticizing academic feminism without citations. The feminist movement silent on the Taliban? When we went to war with Afghanistan I knew more about the Taliban than many Americans because their abuses against women had been covered so thoroughly in feminist publications. Some ...more
Alan Litchfield
Oct 31, 2013 Alan Litchfield rated it it was amazing
I've reviewed this book elsewhere, but I think this book is so important that I need to restate what I think about it here.

Many people still invoke faith as a way of knowing, despite it being highly unlikely to help one arrive at the truth. This is why I'm grateful for this book. Throughout the work Boghossian provides conversational strategies and tactics designed to lead religious believers from faith to reason. The book offers diagnostic methods, provides practical examples of conversations,
Jun 14, 2014 Devon rated it liked it
Shelves: stopped-reading
This will be a very short review.

I stopped reading this manual. Not because I found the content particularly contentious. I am, after all, atheist. But because Boghosian was overly repetitive in his prose. The repetition is probably very strong for cementing key ideas about epistemology and philosophy. And being very well-read on epistemology, biases and fallacies, sociology, and the four horsemen, this book is not for me.

Furthermore, I suspect that some of Boghosian's arguments will not play w
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“Faith taints or at worst removes our curiosity about the world, what we should value, and what type of life we should lead. Faith replaces wonder with epistemological arrogance disguised as false humility. Faith immutably alters the starting conditions for inquiry by uprooting a hunger to know and sowing a warrantless confidence.” 16 likes
“If one had sufficient evidence to warrant belief in a particular claim, then one wouldn’t believe the claim on the basis of faith. “Faith” is the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief, but when one just goes ahead and believes anyway.” 8 likes
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